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What About A 100% Raw Vegan Diet?
By: Mark Idzik
Recently I noticed a lively conversation over at Kevin Gianni's Renegade Health Blog about thoughts on a completely 100% raw food diet.
Kevin mentioned since he wasn't 100% raw, he couldn't comment on some aspects of the diet and invited others to share their thoughts.
Being 100% raw for over 3.5 years, I thought I could share some insight. Basically, here's what I wrote.
The 100% raw vegan diet is always an interesting topic!
Personally, my research and experience is that you thrive at 100% raw vegan. In today's polluted society, I also believe it's the only way to get close to optimal health. Yes, you can be healthy, for the time being, eating less raw. But in the long run, I believe you want to be at 100% to counteract all the toxins, pollution, processed and cooked food in our world today.
I was vegan for over 12 years and ate about 50-75% raw and had health issues the entire time. I never was able to resolve them until I started to eat more raw (naturally) and then soon after decided to go 100% raw overnight. I've been 100% for over 3.5 years now and most all the health issues I had before have been resolved.
In my experience, going any less than 100% is a compromise... for your health. 80% raw? 20% less vibrant health. When you're at 100% you can tell when you eat cooked and the side effects are normally more obvious when your body has been cleaned out. (note: check out this video of a raw foodist after eating 'normal' food) Most everyone can feel a difference.
100% raw is not about being better or some status symbol, it's all about health in my opinion. It's a lifestyle and not just a diet or the way you eat.
It's a choice that everyone has and I've found that those that don't make it 100% normally had already set their mind against it (knowingly or not). It's quite easy to go 100%... if you want to. You make it work. Again it's a choice and you'll never experience the benefits until you've done it for a while. Not just a few weeks or months, but years. I had a detox almost two years into 100%. Some clear up faster, some take more time. It usually depends on the condition of your system.
Many will say it's not easy to go 100% raw. They'll also say they do better at a lower percentage. Better than what? How do you know you're better if you haven't been 100% for an extended period of time? And how do you know the effects of increased consumption of cooked and processed foods will have on your long term health and longevity? Does it intuitively seem right to eat cooked food?
It's easy to be politically correct and say, yes, it's hard and challenging to go 100% raw. But it's really not if you just decide. Imagine yourself having no other alternative but to eat raw. You figure it out and make it work. You learn and make mistakes along the way until you get there. Just like anything in life, if you want it bad enough you'll get it. You'll attain the goal you set in your mind to achieve. If you have doubts, or surround yourself with others that don't believe in what you're doing, then it's easier to break down and give up. Cooked food is addictive and until you give it up for a while, it, along with emotional issues, will easily seduce you back.
Plus, it's easier as you eat more raw food, and less cooked. Eventually you lose the taste (and addiction) to cooked and processed foods as your body returns to it's natural state and you'll be thoroughly enjoying fresh fruits, vegetables and some nuts and seeds without thinking about cooked foods.
In today’s world, it's easy to slide back and give up. Rush, rush, rush... pressure, deadlines, stress, things to do. All seem to be more important that the one thing we can't live without... our health.
I guess it also depends on why you want to go 100% raw to begin with.
For me, it's simple… I feel best when I've been and am at 100%. Health, mindset, thinking, energy, work, life... it's all near optimal at 100% for me and those that have experienced this.
And it's also so much more than just health. Many changes take place in your body, mind and spirit when going 100% raw. Although you may experience some, you miss out on so much by not being at 100% in my opinion. Your life literally changes... your outlook, priorities, perhaps your employment, friends or relationships can change. Some aren't ready for that, or are afraid of those changes. These emotions can stop you (often unknowingly) from making the decision to go 100% raw.
There have been long term studies on cats that ate raw vs. cooked and the results were quite clear... those that ate raw saw better health and were able to reproduce over many generations. Those that ate cooked suffered and eventually could not reproduce. This actually reminds me of the human race today with all the fertility difficulties and being able to get pregnant. Do you think it could have -anything- to do with how much cooked food we eat, stress and the amount of toxins we're exposed to today? (clue: yes!)
And the reason there haven't been long term studies on humans and specifically on raw foodists is most likely that there probably weren’t enough subjects since there are very few 100% raw foodists even today. The number of those interested in raw food has increased dramatically recently and is a great thing. The more the better and perhaps there will be more people available in the near future to be able to conduct a study like this.
In looking at the research on cooked food, there is no comparison to fresh, ripe, organic living foods. None. All studies show the detrimental effects of cooking. Even the FDA admits that all cooked food contains carcinogens. How could that be considered healthy? I haven’t found one study that shows cooked food benefits over living foods. A few studies show more availability of a specific nutrient in a cooked food, but never analyzes or compares the effects on the other nutrients in the food. It's statistically not even worth discussing since all research points to the overwhelming health benefits of raw, living foods. I mean, what is the main advice of most dietitians, nutritionists, health coaches, trainers and most anyone you speak with? Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, right?
Knowing this, why would eating cooked foods, in any amount, bring you to better health? Or to a longer life? Or to more energy? It's just counter-intuitive to think so.
Most often it's just emotions, social pressure and addictions that bring us to missing the 100% mark. And believe it or not, going 100% can help you overcome those addictions and emotions. As mentioned by others in the comments above, food isn't everything and eating doesn’t feed the soul. Well said!
It may not be for everyone, although being 100% is an amazing place to be and personally, I don't plan to give up the awesome experiences I have every day. And it just keeps getting better. You could experience them as well if you wanted to.
All the best on your search for health and wellness everyone!